Pedestrian Rights and Duties On The Streets of Georgia

As a person walking or running in Georgia on our streets and sidewalks, there are certain rules that you should observe in order to make sure that you comply with the laws for pedestrians. What are those rules?

In Georgia, if a sidewalk is provided, the law says you should walk or run on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk provided, then you should walk or run on the shoulder of the road, as far away from the edge of the road as possible, without causing harm to yourself. And if there is no sidewalk, and no shoulder, the person should walk or run as near as practical on the outside edge of the roadway, and if this is on a two lane road, you should walk or run against traffic. Georgia law also requires that any person who is on a roadway, shall yield the right of way to all cars on the road. OCGA 40-6-96.

The law in Georgia also requires that every driver of a vehicle must exercise care to avoid hitting any pedestrian on the road, and must give warning to the pedestrian by blowing his horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution when seeing and child or other person who is confused, incapacitated or intoxicated. OCGA 40-6-93. In fact, there is an interesting case in Georgia, Fountain V. Thompson, 252 Ga.256 (1984), which states that if a person is lying in the open on a flat road, a driver is under a duty to see the person lying in the road and avoid injury to the person.

It is also the best practice of a pedestrian to cross a street within a crosswalk, if one is available. If you are in a crosswalk, Georgia law requires that a car approaching must stop for you in the crosswalk. OCGA 40-6-91(a). Of course, you are not allowed to just walk out into a crosswalk if you see a car coming, and expect the car to stop. In this situation, the pedestrian will likely come out the loser in a collision between the two. Georgia law also provides that if a pedestrian is crossing a road at a point other than a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk, the pedestrian must yield to oncoming cars UNLESS he has already and under safe conditions, entered the roadway. OCGA 40-6-92.

Also, if you are crossing a street where there is a pedestrian control device that tells you when to stop or cross the street, usually a white or red person in the control box, you should always abide by the control device. If you are hit by a car, but you were crossing when the red no crossing sign was lit, then you would not likely have personal injury case against the driver who hit you.

Georgia law places responsibility on the pedestrian and on the driver to avoid a collision, and that both use due care to avoid a collision. As a pedestrian, being the smaller of the two, it is always good practice to look both ways when crossing the street (like our parents taught us) and not simply rely on the pedestrian crossing device, and it is probably a good idea to look both ways TWICE before crossing the street.